ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. It is a pre-trial diversionary program. This particular diversionary program is usually offered only to first time offenders of non-serious offenses, typically misdemeanors where no one was hurt. If accepted into the ARD Program you will be placed on supervision prior to any conviction or guilty plea. The length of supervision can last up to 24 months. If you are being placed into this program because of a DUI you will also have to attend and complete the mandatory Highway Safety classes. You may also be required to have a drug and alcohol analysis completed and complete treatment as recommended. In addition most DUIs still carry a license suspension even in the ARD program. The length of suspension will depend on your Blood Alcohol level. No suspension for BAC less than .10, 30 days for BAC between .10 and .16, and 60 days for BAC over .16. There can also be additional suspensions if you are in possession of alcohol and under the age of 21. First for the DUI you will have a 90 day suspension then the possession of alcohol will have an additional 90 day suspension. Cost and fines for the ARD program range vary across the state they usually range from $1500-2500.
Once you complete the ARD program some major benefits will be available to you. First, there is no jail sentence when you enter into the ARD program. Second the license suspension is greatly reduced from 12 months to as stated above for DUI offenses. Third, you are never convicted when you enter the ARD program, thus this allows for the charged to be dismissed and for you to expunge them from your criminal record. Even if your case is expunged if you are charged with another DUI offense in the 10 years after the expunged offense will still count as a first offense. This means that any subsequent DUI will be considered a second offense subject to more jail time and license suspensions. This expungement does not remove the license suspension from your driving record. These benefits sound great and this is why most people think that ARD is the easy way out to get out of trouble with the Court. In most cases this might be true but not all.
Some people will not be eligible for ARD if they have a prior criminal conviction, were involved in a crash that resulted in serious injury or death, had a minor under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of DUI arrest, or if the DA is just not willing to offer the program. The ARD program is controlled by the District Attorney; they must initially aprove you for the program. Then you will be presented to the Court for final acceptance. There is no “right” to ARD and either the DA or the Judge could deny you admission for many reasons.
With that being said the ARD program is still a very appealing program for most individuals, however there are some situations were accepting this program may have very bad unintended consequences. For example if you have a CDL and take the ARD program, this will count as a major violation against your CDL meaning that your CDL will be suspended for at least 12 months. If this is your second major violation against your CDL then it will result in a lifetime ban for your CDL. In addition if you hold a professional license; doctor, pilot, lawyer, school teacher or nurse, you may still be subject to penalties by your regulatory bodies. You must contact them first to understand the collateral consequences that could result from entering into the ARD program. Once you have all the ramifications figured out then you can make an educated decision on whether or not ARD is right for you.